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Last updated: 21/04/14


Glen Esk Day Meet
8 December, 2013

The President’s Party (PP) of 4 (Ian, Greg, Debs and self) was turfed out of the minibus on the dot of 10:00 at Invermark and proceeded as per the PP route carefully drafted the day before, and attached to the route sheet in the minibus. Although no-one read it, I am jolly well not going to waste it (not even the second para, which is irrelevant but interesting):


“Weather conditions permitting, we will proceed from the car park at the end of Glen Esk past Auchronie along the track up Glen Mark for about 4 km to the Queen’s Well (which commemorates a trip over from Deeside by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1861, a few months before the latter died, after two years of illness, so not a bad trip for an invalid), and Glenmark Lodge. From here, the (“improved”?) track goes up by the Ladder Burn and up the east (and sheltered?) side of the Couternach ridge and onto Mount Keen itself (939m or 3081ft, the most easterly Munro). The last 2 km or so is highly exposed to weather. If there is time, we may return via Braid Cairn to the east, rather than simply retracing our steps.


If the weather or ground conditions discourage us from ascending the hill, we can try crossing the Water of Mark for Balnamoon’s Cave at NO 3959 8327. This was used, from Invermark Castle just west of the car park, as a hiding place for a year after Culloden by James Carnegy-Arbuthnott, Laird of Balnamoon near Brechin, who favoured the Jacobite cause and was known as the Rebel Laird. Locals sheltered him until betrayed by the local minister. He was tried in London, but acquitted on a misnomer (on marriage, he had added “Arbuthnott” to his name, which caused confusion) in 1748.”


The weather did permit (a lot of cloud but above Mount Keen if not Hill of Wirren), so we had coffee at the Queen’s Well (rather windy), and up the landrover track (not very windy) to the summit (rather windy, and cloudy too) at about 12:30. The following photos tell it all up to this point, including the almost complete lack of snow after 12 hours of warmth overnight, and some badly sanded-up cross-drains on the newish path near the summit:














Having made good time, we decided on a loop route rather than the simple return, and were rewarded by a slight clearance as we left the cairn going east to Braid Cairn via some nasty boulders to start with but a good track thereafter:







On the other side of Braid Cairn, we left the county boundary to head round south of Naked Hill and Hill of Gairney to meet the track leading back south. The going was heathery or peaty, but neither too bad, and we even got a blink of sunshine and a distant view of deer (also white hares, but they moved too fast to photograph!):






On the track, it was simple if slightly tedious going (though good views up and down Glen Esk) over a couple of heathery humps used intensively for grouse, and down a long slope through an electric fence and past an "amateur" notice to Auchronie Farm and the minibus at 15:50.






Then down to the Retreat for a beer and a splendid old-style meal: tea, toast, fish/pie/grill/macaroni (to choice, not all together), piles of chips and potatoes, and a tiered cake stand. Highly recommended! Conversation in the minibus home was sporadic at best! 


Many thanks from the PP4, and from Anne, Derek, Kris, Ruth (who penetrated upper Glen Esk), Gordon (who re-lived his youth in the glen) and Alec (who summitted Mount Battock), to the Middletons for organising and driving (and congratulations on going to the local carol concert!).


Author - Ken Thomson
Photos - Ken Thomson